The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


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Lourdes pilgrimage connects people from all over the world

Maggie Mostoller
Participants of Xavier’s annual Lourdes pilgrimage walk in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary during sunset, which is within the Sanctuary of Our Lady in Lourdes, France. On Easter Sunday, people from all over the world gather here to say the rosary, celebrate Mass and light candles, illuminating Easter night. It is known as the ‘Lower Church,’ and is the last out of the three basilicas in Lourdes to be completed.

Each year around Easter, Xavier College Preparatory makes its annual Lourdes pilgrimage. About five hours south of Paris by train, Lourdes is a city that grew in popularity not only for its natural beauty, but for the religious experiences that it offers. 

Home to the Massabielle Grotto where Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette, thousands of people from all over the world make the journey in hopes of being healed, to be in the presence of Mary and Jesus or to simply partake in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This year, there were 34 students, family, teachers and faculty from Xavier that made the trip from March 26 to April 6. 

During five days in Lourdes, Mass was held almost every night, and everyone had the ability to explore the town and markets, visit the Pic du Jer and participate in the Easter Sunday Mass and rosary procession. 

Lourdes wasn’t the only destination, as the group also visited Saint Jean-de-Luz, Carcassonne, Giverny, Limoges, Disneyland Paris, The Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and a place to watch live jazz in Paris.

Zachary Carlson, fine arts teacher who helped lead this year’s France trip, said that his favorite places were the Pic du Jer and Giverny, which is where Claude Monet lived. He also mentioned that the meals were outstanding, with cod, rice and chocolate tart being his favorites.

Carla Bueno ‘24 and Gavin Ahern, theology teacher, agreed that the food was amazing. Their favorite meals were fish and chips, steak and nutella crepes. 

Although the food and sightseeing were unanimously loved, it seemed that the most notable aspect of the trip were the people.

For Carlson, the most special part was seeing people from all different cultures come together in Lourdes for the same purpose. 

Bueno agreed, recalling that Easter Mass was held in multiple languages and “there were so many people coming together to celebrate their faith.” 

This gathering of people is why Ahern calls Lourdes “Catholic Disneyland,” in the sense that “there are people from all over the world who are all happy, and you can visit many different attractions all in one area: confession, the Grotto, shrines and candle lightings.”

His favorite experience was the Italian rosary at the Grotto on Easter, because “everyone knew the prayers and songs,” displaying the universal language of faith and prayer.

When Ahern went to Lourdes with Xavier in 2017, he encountered a small group from England which included a kind lady in a wheelchair and a man named Michael Strode, with whom he had coffee and chatted for a few hours.

This time around, he was hoping to run into the same group of people, and he did. 

Noting that the group’s size had grown incredibly, Ahern was happy to see that this group known as Handicapped Children’s Pilgrimage Trust now brings thousands of people to Lourdes annually. 

Strode was a Cistercian monk and doctor who, after his death in 2019, now has a cause for canonization. 

“The city has a draw to it, you kind of just want to go back as soon as you come,” Ahern said. 

Bueno absolutely recommends the trip to anyone who has a desire to go. “We learn about Lourdes in school or see pictures of it online, but actually being there is a completely unique experience.”

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